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SMU Daily Campus


SMU students studying abroad in Paris recount experience following terrorist attacks Nov. 13

Campbell Flemmons marked herself safe during  the attacks.
Campbell Flemmons marked herself “safe” during the attacks.

By Christina Cox and India Pougher

On Friday, Nov. 13, terror struck Paris.

Reports indicate that 129 people were killed and 352 were injured following shootings and bombings at six separate locations. The attackers targeted a concert hall, a stadium, restaurants and a bar. France declared a national state of emergency and tightened its borders Nov. 13.

At least one American is among the dead in Paris. California State University, Long Beach student Nohemi Gonzalez, 23, was killed during the attacks, the university said in a statement. She was studying in Paris attending the Strate College of Design during a semester abroad program. The university does not have any details of her death.

SMU heard from all 11 of its students studying in Paris Nov. 13 and said they were safe.

SMU senior Campbell Flemmons said she received a text message from a friend that alerted her of the attacks. The shootings were happening less than 2 miles away from her home in Paris.

“Twitter was my only source of information, and each time I refreshed my timeline, the number of people involved in the attack grew,” Flemmons said. “That’s when messages started to pour in from friends, family, friends of friends, SMU and IFE faculty, and complete strangers asking if I was OK.”

SMU junior Connor Gross was with a group of students who are currently studying in Paris this semester. He said a concerned text message from a friend around 10 p.m. was how they initially heard of the attacks as well. Gross and other students went online to read the facts of what was happening in the city around them.

“It was shocking and scary because we all have friends in the city right now, myself included,” Gross said.

Gross described the events as “sickening” because of the nature of the attacks and that it could have impacted the SMU community.

“It could have been us, especially because the 10th and 11th Arrondissements are popular areas for college students to go out,” Gross said.

Many students and individuals in Paris used social media to mark themselves “safe” during an event Facebook called “Paris Terrorist attacks.”

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Campbell Flemmons marked herself “safe” during the attacks.

Flemmons said she immediately marked herself safe and was relieved that each of her friends in Paris had been marked safe as well.

“It seems like such a small thing to push a button to say you’re safe, but it provided so much relief to everyone who knew someone in Paris Friday night,” Flemmons said.

Gross said he does not know if there is anything else Paris can do to increase safety and prevent future attacks.

“They already have Vigipirate patrolling at national monuments and touristy places in an effort to prevent attacks like this,” he said. “The problem though is that terror can happen anywhere, as it did last night.”

Gross noted that he understood the risk of studying abroad, especially in Paris, after the Charlie Hebdo attacks. For him, the attacks are unfortunately the reality of today’s society.

Despite the risk, SMU students are still looking forward to studying abroad in Paris next semester. Junior Alexandra Kern believes that Paris will be more secure by the time she is studying there.

“The scariest thing is that the attacks were made in the area of the city that my classes will be held in,” Kern said. “It just makes me realize how fragile the world is, and how this tragedy could happen anywhere, not just Paris.”

Flemmons believes the best way to move forward from this tragedy is to continue showing support and love for France and helping when possible.

“The people of Paris are hurting tonight, but they have come together and shown that terrorism cannot and will not win,” she said.

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